There are two types of urban dwellers. One who live in modern urban sprawls basking in the city life, their only connect to nature being annual holidays to exotic locations. Then there are those who have the fortune of access to green oases within the urban chaos in the form of parks and lakes. As with dwellers, cities also fall into two categories. One part with little or no greenery and the other which has the fortune of having remnants of ancient forests.
These cities form part of an exclusive worldwide chain of the last remaining urban forests. In these cities, nature still has space to breathe and provides us with a much needed whiff of fresh air. Hence, inspite of all the terrible chaos, Mumbai still has the Borivili National park, residents of Bhopal for all its recent growth still find time to visit the Van Vihar National Park, Delhiites have some relief in the form of the vastly reduced ridge, Mysore has the Chamundi Hills and Karanji Lake and Bangalore can still count upon its remaining parks and of course the Bannerghatta National Park on the outskirts of Bangalore. Living in a concrete jungle, the escape to Bannerghatta National Park is but barely a few kilometres away from the city centre.
The Bannerghatta National Park is located on the edges of the suburb with the same name, about 20 kms from the city centre. Primarily a dry forest tract, it is part of the original forests that extended into the Cauvery Valley, with most of the forest still intact. Accorded intensive protection and classified as a national park, Bannerghatta is every Bangalorean’s first brush with nature.
The Bannerghatta complex is used for a variety of environment education programmes and as a popular camping site. There are facilities for safari and stay. A state of the art, modern butterfly park has been inaugurated recently and a zoo facility exists. Thus, it is a perfect getaway for the tired denizens of the city.
As a concept, JLR as an organisation spreads the message of conservation far and wide. The park being among the first introductions to wildlife for children across the city, JLR utilizes the camp to further the interest of conservation. It is one of the very few JLR units with a dormitory that can accommodate children at a much lower cost. JLR organizes camps during the holiday season primarily focusing on nature based activities. These camps are organized as two to three day events wherein children get to experience nature first hand.
Additionally, the camp plays host to the Naturalist Training Programme conducted by the Chief Naturalist of JLR, S. Karthikeyan from time to time. The programme has been well received and very popular. Several budding naturalists have enrolled in this course and have contributed to the message of conservation in whatever ways possible.
The three day course has emerged as a favourite amongst nature enthusiasts. Karthik, who has worked in the field of conservation and education for more than twenty years, now uses the subtle interactions of nature to imbibe a sense of awe among participants. He, in his humble manner, may have possibly contributed to creating thousands of budding naturalists over the past few decades.
This understanding imparted through the Naturalist Training Programme goes a long way in promoting a sensible understanding of the environment while encouraging the birth of new ecotourists.
Bannerghatta Nature Camp will continue to be every child’s first brush with the environment, ensuring that they colour their imagination with the myriad hues of nature and imbibe an appreciation of the wild from an early age.